We know it's the middle of summer and you're probably kicking back with a brew and a babe, but we thought we should tell you about some important all-new trucks barreling down the highway, heading right at you.
2009 Ford F-150
When you combine the sales of all Ford F-series vehicles, the team from Dearborn, Michigan, is responsible for the best-selling vehicle on the planet. Nothing like being under a little pressure when it comes to introducing an all-new F-150 then, eh?
Our first impressions are that the 1,000-person crew responsible for the new F-150 did their homework. The new model is better looking and gains features and capabilities, many lifted from last year's all-new Super Duty. Put an '09 F-150 next to an '08 Super Duty and you'll see they share a more squared-off look and a similar face. The F-150, however, sports more refined styling than its bigger brother. Details in the hood, fenders, and on the tailgate show real attention to design, making the F-150 look upscale and tough... as opposed to just tough. We're driving the all-new truck and will deliver our report soon.
2009 Dodge Ram 1500
The Ram is thoroughly redesigned for 2009, and it's about time. It was 2002 the last time Dodge did anything major with its big truck. A more powerful (380hp) and efficient (mileage up 5 percent) Hemi is behind the new grille, and later in the production run there will be a new Cummins light-duty clean diesel for the 1500s. Under the new body, the live rear axle is now suspended with coils instead of traditional leaf springs. This new arrangement improves stability and ride refinement without compromising cargo-hauling capabilities. The interior is all-new, and body styles now include a true crew cab.
In a breakthrough of common sense, Dodge figured out how to use all that wasted space in the rear fenders-and the manufacturer did it better than in GM's feeble attempt in the Avalanche or Escalade EXT. For all you golfers in the Sport Truck audience, the fender bins are large enough to carry a set of clubs. The rest of us will pack them with ice and the beverages of our choice.
2010 Pontiac G8 Sport Truck
We actually heard about this back in the spring and thought it was an April Fools' Day joke, but Pontiac is serious about marketing a pickup based on its hot new G8 sedan. The G8 is based on the Holden Commodore, a family of rear-wheel-drive vehicles GM builds down in Australia where apparently pickups like these are popular in the outback. The El Camino-style Poncho boasts a 361hp, 6.0-liter V-8. With a payload of approximately 1,300 pounds and 0-to-60 times of about 5.5 seconds, this truck should really haul.
100 Miles Per Gallon: A Pipe Dream?
Progressive Auto Insurance is putting up 10 million dollars in a contest designed to bring the world's best engineers and designers together to build cars that get 100 mpg and are salable. These vehicles must meet certain environmental, safety, and emissions requirements. The Progressive Automotive X Prize competition will feature teams of builders that will take their designs to the road in a cross-country race to be held some time during 2009 or 2010.
Pete Diamandis of the X Prize Foundation reminds us that the original Ford Model T got 25 mpg, so the industry should already be on pace to put 100-mpg automobiles on the road (he must have overlooked the part where the world asked for cars that would go faster than 18 mph).
The Automotive X Prize contest will award prizes in two classes: one for "mainstream" vehicles equipped with four wheels and capable of carrying at least four passengers, and another for "alternative" vehicles that have at least three wheels and room for two passengers.